Hopsin showcases the raw side of underground rap

Miriam Arghandiwal

Try to recall the ruthlessness of Marshall Mathers back when he put out the “Slim Shady EP”. The nonconforming and odd behavior that set Tech N9ne apart from other rappers that created his Strange Music empire. Mesh the two together to imagine what their love-child would sound like. Now you’ll may have a good idea of what California native, Hopsin’s new album “Raw” sounds like.

Hopsin, whose name is a amalgamation of hip-hop and sinister, lets his album live up to its name. The emcee’s album is not only raw because of its dark undertones where he speaks of his vices and hardships, but because he also speaks of his honest reactions to them. From his honest opinion about rapping, to hurting loved ones, to his frustration with the world around him, there is little that the Hopsin leaves uncovered.

With clever punchlines and witty lyrics, the album leaves one feeling the sting of Hopsin’s insults and the ache of his pain.

The album’s production stays true to the familiar raw hip-hop beats that can be found in most California artists’ music artists like Too Short and N.W.A. At first listen, it can be detected where Hopsin is from, especially in songs like “Sag My Pants,” but his flow and content over the beats can make one second guess that notion. For example, Hopsin’s subject matters are original from what most west coast rappers rap about.

While rap groups like N.W.A were raw in a form of rebelling and depicting gangster rap, and artists like Too Short served simpler rap subjects, Hopsin represents a different kind of a raw. A less gangster, less simple, and more humane and chaotic one.

Instead of mirroring west coast rappers that came before him, his raps mirror more of a young Eminem as he raps about outcasts, murder, domestic violence and uses stinging comments to deliver this.

Hopsin’s style is something he developed throughout this life. Growing up, Hopsin remained in special education classes all the way throughout high school. He was never the cool kid in school, but instead he was the one who was always picked on and mistreated.

In an interview with RapIndustry.com, Hopsin said it was those years of being an outcast that inspire him most.

“I draw my inspiration from the old me. The me, who was a loser and didn’t have any trustworthy friends; The me, who was heartbroken too many times; The me, who hated what hip-hop has become today. That’s where I get it from,” he said.

Although evident comparisons to other artists can be made with Hopsin, his originality is not to be undermined. In fact, the rapper is even more ruthless than the king of ruthlessness himself: Eminem. While Eminem spent a majority of his time dissing popstars, in Hopsin’s track “Sag My Pants,” Hopsin takes shots at rap legends Eazy E’s wife, and current mainstream favorites Lil’ Wayne and Drake, as well as well respected underground rapper, Lupe Fiasco.

It is clear Hopsin is not looking for approval from anyone. He gives his honest thoughts and pays no mind to who he may offend. He creates his art and allows others to take it as they please.

It seems as though he is confident enough in his talent alone, and believes that it is enough to attract listeners. Or perhaps he is content with backlash as long as he has been honest.

Controversy and smart punchlines are not all he has to offer. Hopsin’s tracks “Nocturnal Rainbows” and “Heather Nicole,” demonstrate Hopsin’s most promising work and showcases his future potential.

His song, “Heather Nicole,” takes a break from punchlines and shows the level of depth Hopsin can rap about.

From his careful choice of words to his heavy lyrical play and catchy hooks, its hard not to have get goosebumps from the track.

“At night in my window I see your silhouette, crying heavy tears look how wet my pillow gets, throughout my days I don’t smile, I just get upset, and since you left, look at all the shit that it effects,” he raps in “Heather Nicole.”

He switches from emotional depth to expressing his critical thought process in “Nocturnal Rainbows.” This process makes listeners analyze the reality of the situations that play out around them.

“Obama’s president. So? What’s he represent? Just because the ni**a half black don’t mean he’s heaven sent, you’re clueless to evidence,” he raps in “Nocturnal Rainbows.”

As dark and offensive as his lyrics may be, in the end “Raw,” is not so much a cynical record as it is one that tells the story of a man struggling. At the end of the day, its sounds as though Hospindoes not attract listeners due to his controversial lyrics, because the controversy is simply him being honest and comes effortlessly. Instead , people take liking to the rapper because of his ability to connect with his listeners.

“I’m not a devil, I’m not speaking in tongues, I’m just trying to touch your heart, I try to reach in songs,” he raps in “Nocturnal Rainbows.”

Miriam Arghandiwal can be reached at [email protected]